People magazine, the publication whose niche seems to be keeping us informed about Hollywood trifles, had an article worth reading in its issue of May 12, 1986.
"He's barely old enough to buy a Michelob Light, but Brandt Legg of Fairfax, Va., already has it all," the article began. "At 19, he is worth $12.4 million, owns 22 corporations and closes real estate deals the way some kids scalp Springsteen tickets. He has been on a $10,000 clothes-shopping binge and once bought himself 100 Frisbees. He works 17 hours a day, wears Burberry suits by day and braces at night."
You are doubtlessly thinking a 27-year-old article about someone from Virginia is a wee bit too far off the beaten path.
Ah, but this is no digression. The fellow dubbed the "Teen Tycoon" by the mid-1980s media, including the likes of NPR and ABC World News, moved to Talent three years ago with his wife, Roanne, and their young son, now 4.
Moreover, he has become a writer. His debut novel, "Outview," was published by The Sager Group at the end of January.
Billed as the first in the "Inner Movement" fantasy trilogy — with the other two novels scheduled to be published later this year — the 352-page paperback is available at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland and amazon.com for $14.99 or as a Kindle e-book for $7.99.
"I consider myself more of a storyteller," observes Legg, now 46. "I don't claim to write great literature, but I really enjoy writing and telling a story."
He acknowledges his back story is likely to draw attention to his books, something he prudently plans to parlay to his advantage.
However, like all of us, he has some aspects of his life that he would like to have the chance to do over.
Let's go back to the 1986 article for a little more background.
"Legg zoomed onto the financial fast track at age 10 by investing 25 cents in a first-day cover at a stamp collectors convention," the magazine reported. "Moments later, he sold it for $85. Inspired, he became a philatelic entrepreneur, as well as an insta-adult.
"Within four years, his stamp collection was worth about $100,000, and by the time he was 17, a stamp auction house he had bought was grossing $1 million a year," it added.
Legg dropped out of high school in the 11th grade because he was "too busy making money," the magazine noted, adding that he later earned a high school equivalency diploma.
You get the gist. He was definitely a teenage phenom.
But the youngest of five boys didn't have it easy. His father, an independent film producer who largely worked on commercials, died of a heart attack at age 40.
"When he died, his business died, and our financial security died at the same time," Brandt recalls. "Shortly thereafter, I started suffering from severe migraine headaches. I missed a lot of school, had to be confined to a cold, dark room. It set me apart. I became a much more serious kid than I probably otherwise would have been."
As part of a school project, he became involved in stamp collecting, a hobby his father had also enjoyed. That was when he bought the stamp for a quarter and sold it a few minutes later for $85.
"The bells started going off," he says of his first business transaction. Never mind he was only 10.
From that point he began buying and selling stamps along with some coins. He bought out another dealer. He was on his way.
"I did very well at first," he says. "But I became pretty reckless and highly leveraged. I didn't really appreciate the risks and repercussions. I cut some corners. I'm not proud of that."
Remember, this was at a time when junk bonds were king.
"When the '87 stock market crashed, I was not in great shape," he says. "My liquidity dried up. Everything unraveled."
An investigation that lasted five years found him guilty of financial improprieties. He pleaded guilty to bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud and mail fraud.
At age 25, he was serving a year in federal prison.
"I remember there were 70-year-olds, a lot of guys in their 50s and 60s in there," he says. "It was a tough deal. I went from Teen Tycoon to cleaning trash cans and working in the prison kitchen. I certainly didn't want to be there, but it turned out to be the great turning point in my life."
It was also the point where Brandt, who was surrounded by books as a youngster, began to write.
"I fell in love with writing," he says.
Like all good writers, he writes of what he knows. The main character in his first novel is a teenager who is in over his head in a corrupt world. He describes it as a coming-of-age fantasy thriller set primarily in southwest Oregon.
When he finishes his trilogy — he just completed the draft for the second book due out in June — he has another book on his mind, one he has already started.
"I do plan to complete the book about my back story," he says. "But it would be nonfiction, of course."
And a page turner.
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or firstname.lastname@example.org.